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KEARNY - The town council has approved at $12,000 contract to a former Somerset County police chief to oversee disciplinary charges brought against two veteran officers.
The appointment of Robert Verry, of South Bound Brook, comes after a nearly year-long investigation into drugs and other seized materials that went missing from the Kearny Police Department's evidence lockers.
Police Capt. Timothy Wagner, of the Internal Affairs Unit, said the department opened an investigation with the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office in August when evidence appeared to have gone missing.
During the investigation two police officers were suspended with pay, Wagner said. The prosecutor's office declined to press criminal charges against the two in June, Wagner said, and a spokesman for the prosecutor's office said the department does not comment on internal affairs investigations.
Once the prosecutor did not bring charges against the two officers, who are only identified as veteran officers, Kearny officials moved forward with departmental charges against the them. Wagner emphasized the department could not file internal disciplinary charges while criminal charges were looming.
Both officers are now suspended without pay pending a hearing on the internal charges. Additional information was not available because it is a personnel matter.
Meanwhile, during the town council's meeting on July 11 Verry was unanimously awarded a contract to be the hearing officer in the case. He will be paid $120 an hour with work not to exceed $12,000.
Verry, who served as South Bound Brook police chief from 2000 to 2008, will not be investigating the incident. While it's not required for an outside person to hear internal affair complaints, Wagner said it's common for the town to appoint someone from outside the department.
The town's business administrator could not be reach to comment on how Verry was appointed.
Both officers could be terminated if they are found guilty on the charges.